1. Jacob has reached the end of his life; before he passes, however, he seeks to have a final word with Joseph and then final words with his other sons (C-49). In his final words to Joseph and his two sons, he relates the experiences he has endured and that God brought him through it all. While he thought he would not see his son Joseph, he reflected on how blessed he was to see Joseph’s sons.
2. Jacob does something that is interesting; right near the time of his passing he adopts the two sons of Joseph and says, “and now your two sons…are mine” (48:5). This is important because we learn that Rueben, Jacob’s firstborn, lost his status in this position. Physically speaking, he will always be the firstborn, but it carried with certain responsibilities, not just rewards. Reuben threw it away as did Esau (49:3-4; 1 Chronicles 5:1-2).
3. Now adopted into the status of being Jacob’s sons, Jacob further delineates between the two. Manasseh was the firstborn, but Jacob places his hand on Ephraim and gives to him the higher status between the two. Joseph resisted this (it displeased him, 48:17), but Jacob knew exactly what he was doing. In this sacred setting, a number of things occur: first, Joseph is blessed (48:15-16) and, second, he placed in his family as direct descendants (via adoption, 48:6) both Ephraim and Manasseh; third, Joseph received a “double portion” in the family.
4. Application: We always live in the present; we don’t live in the past, and the future has yet to arrive. Living in the present, as Jacob did, he was now preparing for the future. More than that, however, he was preparing to enter into the realm of eternity. Much heartache was experienced in his life, but in the moment in which he was living he was able to see his son (Joseph) and his grandsons (Manasseh and Ephraim). The heartache of the past was behind him, the joy of the heart was in the present, and the reward of eternity was before him. Paul’s words to the Philippians comes to mind in this (Philippians 3:12-14).